The Old Testament is full of events and images that are given their full meaning in the life and ministry of Jesus. The story of God’s rescue of Israel from slavery in Egypt (memorialized by the Passover Feast) and God feeding Israel daily with manna (daily bread) in the wilderness loom large in John chapter 6. When Jesus miraculously feeds 5000 people his popularity soars not only because hungry people were fed, but also because the people saw Jesus as a second Moses. If Moses led Israel out of slavery in Egypt, maybe Jesus will lead them out of Roman oppression. But Jesus has something else in mind, and in the end many of his disciples desert him.
Why does Jesus put the responsibility of feeding the crowd on Philip and the other disciples? The people exclaim that Jesus must be “the Prophet who is come into the world.” This is an allusion to the words of Moses:
The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You must listen to him. (Deuteronomy 18:15)
Why does Jesus withdraw even though the crowds have rightly connected this prophecy to Him?
The disciples get into their boats to sail back to Capernaum which served as Jesus’ base of operations for His ministry in Galilee. Why do you think Jesus walks on water to his disciples?
Once in Capernaum, Jesus went to the synagogue and began to teach. What troubles Jesus about the motives of his followers? ‘Bread that spoils’ is both an allusion to the manna God fed Israel in the wilderness and the bread Jesus provided when he fed the 5000. What is the food that endures to eternal life? The title ‘Son of Man’ comes from Daniel 7:13-14.
What is the ‘work’ that God requires of us to receive eternal life? The people listening to Jesus in the synagogue demand that he give them a sign like the one Moses gave, in other words they want him to repeat the feeding of the 5000 miracle. How does Jesus demonstrate himself to be greater than Moses? Who or what is the ‘true bread from heaven’? How is this bread greater than the bread that Israel received in the desert? How does Jesus explain the fact that some accept his teaching and others reject him?
Why do the people in the synagogue have a hard time swallowing Jesus’ teaching that he is the ‘bread come down from heaven’? How does Jesus (the Son) see himself in relationship to the God of Israel (the Father)? How is Jesus the truer and greater manna?
This section of Jesus’ teaching is hard for us to accept, let alone the Jews hearing it for the first time. What are we to make of Jesus calling us to eat his flesh and drink his blood? Remember that earlier Jesus said in John 6:27, 29 that we are “to work for food that endures to eternal life” and that work is simply to “believe in the one he has sent (Jesus).” Notice the theme that is repeated, Jesus is the true manna.
The Son of Man is an allusion to the prophet Daniel.
In my vision at night I looked, and there was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. (Daniel 7:13-14)
What is it about Jesus’ teaching that causes many of his followers to fall away? Why has Peter chosen to stay?
The word ‘Christ’ means Messiah or ‘anointed one.’ What is Pete rsaying about Jesus? Why does Jesus want him to keep it secret? When Jesus’ disciples heard ‘son of man’, they thought Daniel 7:13-14. Why would it be hard for Peter to believe that the son of man ofDaniel 7:13-14 would suffer, be rejected, die and be raised to life? How does the things of men, the way of Satan differ from the way of Jesus?